Monday, March 02, 2009

Pavement Panto™ 3: Teenage Gangs

If you live in an urban environment, occasionally it becomes necessary to walk through a group of hooded youths. Most of these youths are, we are obliged to say, harmless, misunderstood, basically good kids, hanging out in gangs while they search for an identity et cetera. Some are proper little bastards. But however you feel about hooded youths, the experience of walking alone through a group of them is one of self-consciousness and does call for a bit of Pavement Panto™ (Secondary Class).

I can think of three approaches for the male PP artist (though no doubt you can suggest more):

1. Exaggerated nonchalance. Perhaps a bit of whistling, hands in pockets, jaunty stroll. Oh is there a rabble of aggressive-looking teenagers here? I didn’t even notice. Evening, all. Knowing grin. I’m like you guys, man of the people, man of the street, a bit like Tony Blair, hey ho.

2. No nonsense tough guy. This is more of a fast determined stride straight through the middle, looking neither left nor right, slight frown, jaw set. I’m on important business, possibly secret service or undercover policework-related. Certainly I have a wide range of deadly martial arts techniques in my locker. Your trivial teenage gang is of no interest to me. Fake gum-chewing may be employed.

3. Unstable lunatic. Slight facial or limb twitches, bulging eyes, odd humming and an unearthly, twisted smile can all give the impression that beneath the apparently normal façade lurks a raging, and possibly armed, violent schizophrenic.


I tend to go for approach 2, but approach 3 is the most interesting Panto.

Of course, it helps if you really are an unstable lunatic. Chap I used to house-share with had the most extraordinary paranoid rage always bubbling away just beneath the surface. He was just one big trembling ball of tension. One day a couple of chavs made some remarks and started following him up the street, taunting him with their brainless zombie chunterings.

His response was to deliberately and obviously slooooow dooooown. Suitably unnerved, they went their grubby way.

12 comments:

jonathan law said...

I remember reading that George Melly favoured an interesting version of Approach 3. On being approached by a gang of teenage troublemakers, he would raise his arms wide in solemn invocation and, basso molto profundo, begin reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards (a trick he had learned from one of his Surrealist chums). The little gobshites couldn’t clear out of there fast enough. Probably works best with a floppy large-brimmed hat.

Peter Burnet said...

Then there is PP approach number four for folks who don't get irony.

Brit said...

All sorts of things work better with a floppy large-brimmed hat.

malty said...

Poor old George, singing and fishing, not an ideal lifestyle.

The Geordie school of self defence (or defense as you know who tend to say) There are usually three of them, the smallest one is normally the troublemaker and looks like Dennis Wise.
Pick on the biggest one, kick him in the bollocks and run like f..k.
Works on nine out of ten occasions. For the tenth, good healthcare insurance is a must.

Brit said...

You're so right about the Dennis Wise thing. Joey Barton has a Dennis Wise face.

elberry said...

i've done the 'bless you my child' accompanied by the sign of the cross and a sex offender's excited grin - they ran away, then stopped, sarcastically shouted "bless you!" from a safe distance, then continued to run away.

i usually don't really notice them unless they are going to annoy me, then i go kind of weird, and they always get out of my way. Well, so far they have.

Brit said...

Somehow I guessed 3 might be your approach, Elberry...

martpol said...

My missus and I call the hoodies round our way 'urchins', which has the twin advantages of (a) lending their white-tracksuit-wearing, unnecessarily-loud-swearing ways a nice Dickensian ring, and (b) making them less threatening. Not that they ARE particularly threatening round our way; they're most likely to mutter a gruff "all right?" and shuffle on their way, god-awful garage music emanating tinnily from their phones.

Brit said...

That's good, Martpol. By naming them you control them. There's a post or two in that.

elberry said...

There are various grins which can deal with these oafs. i favour the sexual predator grin, it's kind of hard to deal with.

Stephen Fawcus said...

Being a big bloke with a shaved head, even though I'm soft as clarts, I don't tend to get hassle from urchins. If I do get some lip I tend to look at the offenders with a smile on my face and then I proceed to explain how I'm just popping round to their mother's house to have sexual intercourse with her in an uncomfortable place (a mini cooper possibly). This usually confounds them.

madfolly said...

I encountered my first group just a few weeks ago, throwing bottlecaps at a man who became very unhappy and started a ruckus, much to the distress of his wife. Started getting ugly. I took out my phone and started filming them. Shifted the attention, wife grabbed husband and pulled him away. They followed for a bit but I ignored them. In retrospect, not so smart. I always had pepper spray with me in the U.S. (mostly for bobcats and bears in Yosemite) but this was the first time I really wished I had it.